WASHINGTON (CN) — Denying criticism that Republicans keep the Kremlin happy by questioning the origins of the Russia probe, Senator Ron Johnson announced Monday the first of at least 30 subpoenas he will serve the FBI.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut voiced his party’s frustration with such investigations on Friday in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.
Suggesting that Congress is becoming “a forum for debunked conspiracy theories peddled by Kremlin proxies,” Blumenthal accused Johnson of “using documents provided to the senators by the son of a former KGB officer.”
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, refuted those claims Monday in a lengthy open letter he disseminated along with the statement announcing his subpoena.
“It is neither me, Chairman Grassley, nor our committees that are being used to disseminate Russian disinformation,” Johnson wrote. “Instead it is Democrats and the media that have been doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s work for him. Puppet masters in the Kremlin could not be more pleased at the political division and discord that has been driven by the resistance movement against President Trump.”
At the Senate Finance Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley is leading another of the Republican Party’s probes into the FBI investigation of ties between Russian meddling in the U.S. election and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. After Trump’s election, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the FBI’s investigation. Johnson on Monday accused Democrats of leading “a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack” himself and Grassley.
The Senate authorized subpoenas in June targeting, among other officials, former James Clapper and Susan Rice, the former director of national intelligences national security adviser, respectively, under President Barack Obama.
Thursday’s summons demands FBI Director Christopher Wray produce “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the FBI’s code-named intelligence probe into collusion allegations between Trump and Russia. Johnson said the documents are due by 5 p.m. on August 20.
In his 11-page letter outlining the intent of his investigation, Johnson also spoke to his committee’s investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine.
Johnson’s committee issued its first subpoena in that investigation in May, digging into a job held on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Bursima Holdings by Hunter Biden, the son of Trump’s 2020 election opponent.
“We didn’t target Joe and Hunter Biden for investigation; their previous actions had put them in the middle of it,” Johnson wrote. “Many in the media, in an ongoing attempt to provide cover for former Vice President Biden, continue to repeat the mantra that there is ‘no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity’ related to Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma board. I could not disagree more.”
Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma was one of the first things Trump brought up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July in a phone call congratulating Zelensky on his election. In a solicitation that triggered Trump’s impeachment by the House in December, Trump urged Zelensky then to “do us a favor” and “look into” whether Joe Biden abused his government position to get the job for his son.
Johnson claims Biden’s familial political connections are not one-offs. Citing “public reporting,” Johnson wrote that Hunter Biden has landed “lucrative business deals and investments” in China, while also garnering deals for his brothers and sisters-in-law.
“We will not be deterred by these coordinated and despicably false attacks,” Johnson wrote. “We intend to uncover the truth and make it public.”